Bankruptcy reforms ‘will spur Saudi Arabian investment’

Bankruptcy regulations in line with global standards are a major step in overhauling the Saudi economy, analysts say. (Shutterstock)
Updated 01 August 2018
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Bankruptcy reforms ‘will spur Saudi Arabian investment’

  • Saudi Arabia will introduce its first comprehensive bankruptcy law on Aug. 18
  • The new rules have been drawn up to offer protection to creditors

LONDON: Saudi Arabia will introduce its first comprehensive bankruptcy law on Aug. 18 in a move designed to encourage foreign and domestic investment in private business, experts say.
The move is also seen as providing a boost for competitiveness and jobs, and to help pave the way for the transfer of knowledge and skills as part of a drive to modernize the economy.
Based on internationally recognized insolvency standards, the new rules have been drawn up to offer protection to creditors such as banks, as well as stricken companies that seek to wind up their affairs in an orderly manner, thereby shielding themselves from arbitrary seizure of their assets.
“The new regulations will offer lenders, firms and their executives peace of mind and spur overseas investment in the private sector,” said Dario Najm, an associate in the corporate and M&A practice at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP in Riyadh.
In an interview with Arab News, he said that until now there had been little in the way of “procedural clarity” in the way bankruptcies have been handled in KSA. But this was vital to generate confidence and “bring in foreign direct investment that will help to expand the private sector in line with Vision 2030, and refashion the economy.”
Najm also indicated that many investors were waiting for the new laws to come into force before making KSA investment decisions.
The laws would encourage the creation of new enterprises and medium-sized businesses, by Gulf and overseas entrepreneurs, creating employment for Saudi nationals, Najm said. It would generate confidence that a formal system was in place to liquidate companies that had run into trouble, or allow them time to recover by arranging a debt-repayment schedule.
Jason Tuvey, Middle East economist at Capital Economics, told Arab News that “there is a good chance these latest developments will help to attract more foreign investment, and aid the wider economy in terms of knowledge transfer, which in turn could lead to stronger productivity growth.”
He said that the law would encourage risk-takers to invest capital in new businesses that will help take the country away from its dependency on oil.
“It allows creditors and debtors to enter into agreements to schedule the payment of debts, a measure that will enable indebted corporations to achieve a stable financial status.”
Confirmation that the new bankruptcy law would be implemented in five weeks came from a Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Investment official during a workshop.
Speakers said that the bankruptcy law served an Islamic purpose, which was the preservation of money, and was to be applied according to the best international practices for addressing financial issues, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.
Majed Al-Rasheed, secretary-general of the Bankruptcy Commission at the Ministry of Commerce and Investment, was quoted as saying the law provided “a set of tools and solutions that regulate the value of the debtor’s assets to be sold at the highest possible price in a short period of time, and this establishes trust in the credit market.”
Maher Saeed, director of the bankruptcy law project, said that the new laws — first outlined in February — included seven chapters for bankruptcy procedures.
The idea was to take into account the circumstances of defaulters and small debtors, providing them with special procedures.
“The law will bolster Saudi national choices emphasized in Vision 2030, which aim to establish a prosperous economy, facilitate business, help investors overcome financial obstacles, and empower debtors,” he said.


Apple to build new $1 billion campus in Austin

Updated 10 min 56 sec ago
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Apple to build new $1 billion campus in Austin

  • Apple Inc. said it would spend $1 billion to build a second campus in Austin, Texas
  • Apple will also set up sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California

NEW YORK: Apple Inc. said on Thursday it would spend $1 billion to build a second campus in Austin, Texas that will house as many as 15,000 workers, amid a broader push by many US companies to create more jobs at home.
The iPhone maker had announced at the start of the year it would invest $30 billion in the United States, taking advantage of a tax windfall stemming from US President Donald Trump’s sweeping tax reforms.
The 133-acre campus in Austin will employ workers across various functions including engineering, R&D, operations and finance. The city is already home to the second largest number of Apple employees outside its headquarters in Cupertino, California.
Apple will also set up sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California and hire over 1,000 employees each in these locations, while also expanding operations in Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder, Colorado over the next three years.
Many American multinationals have been facing political pressure to ramp up investments at home as part of Trump’s “America First” policies, which have left the United States embroiled in a bitter trade war with China. The president has also warned of tariffs on iPhones and other Apple products imported from China.
Apple’s technology rival Amazon.com Inc. last month ended a months-long search for its second headquarters, picking New York City and an area just outside Washington, D.C. for massive new offices, with plans to create thousands of jobs.
The new Austin campus will be located less than a mile away from Apple’s existing facilities, and will first house 5,000 new employees with the capacity to expand to 15,000.
The company, which last year moved into its sleek “spaceship” campus in Cupertino, said jobs at the new Austin center would include engineering, research and development, finance and sales functions.